Free Agency Begins: Carson Wentz & Baker Get Bad Raps, Russell Wilson is Overrated, Brady’s Questionable Retirement

I’ve got a few points I want to make here so I’ll just get right into it.

Point #1: Carson Wentz is getting a bad rap.

He was recently traded from the Colts to the Washington Commanders (still getting used to that one) after just one season in Indianapolis. The Colts had apparently seen enough and were ready to move off of him. It was not exactly a surprise given how the Colts collapsed at the end of the season, but then again it was a bit of a surprise considering Frank Reich was supposed to be the guy who could fix Wentz and get him back to his old 2017 self again.

Instead, Wentz lasted one season in Indy, and rumors were that Reich apologized to Colts owner Jim Irsay for being wrong about Wentz.

I think it’s pretty safe to say Irsay pulled rank here and demanded Wentz be shipped off. In my view, it was a bad move.

For one, Carson Wentz was probably a lot better last season than you thought he was.

Did you know he had 27 TD passes against 7 INTs last season? Surprising, no? He also added 1 rushing TD for 28 total TDs.

He also lost 8 fumbles, but in fact that’s the fewest fumbles he’s ever lost in a season in his career.

So the guy had 28 total TDs against 15 total turnovers, for a nearly 2:1 TD:Turnover ratio. I’d say that’s pretty damn good.

Wentz finished the season with a 94.6 passer rating, good for 13th in the league and ahead of guys like Derek Carr (94.0) and even Josh Allen (92.2), believe it or not. He was not all that far behind Mahomes (98.5) and Justin Herbert (97.7).

Wentz ranked tied with Russell Wilson for 9th in the league in QBR with a 54.7 overall. That was better than Dak Prescott, Joe Burrow, Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins and Lamar Jackson.

Wentz was 3rd best in the league in INT% at just 1.4%, behind only Aaron Rodgers (0.8%) and Kirk Cousins (1.2%).

Now, Wentz has some other numbers that weren’t all that impressive. His 209.6 passing YPG ranked just 26th in the league. His 6.9 yards per passing attempt were ranked just 21st in the league–although that was still a better figure than Josh Allen’s 6.8.

But Wentz’s Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt of 6.5 was good for 13th in the league.

Carson Wentz, statistically, was not a bad quarterback last season. Not by any measure. I know the way last season ended was disappointing, but I’m surprised the Colts didn’t view last season as one to build off of. You’d have to figure Wentz will be better with another year in Reich’s offense, no?

I think the Colts should have given him another year. Now, we don’t know what things were like in the locker room. It’s possible Wentz was not a good fit in the locker room, although I have no information to indicate this or suggest it. I’m just speculating here to try to figure out why they’d get rid of a guy who by nearly all statistical measures had a good season.

The next point on Wentz: who are the Colts going to get to replace him? The Texans won’t even let them make offers on DeShaun Watson. Russell Wilson is already on the Broncos. Aaron Rodgers re-signed with Green Bay. Kirk Cousins re-signed with Minnesota. Trubisky went to Pittsburgh.

I guess they could go after Jameis Winston, but if you don’t like Carson Wentz because of his playing style, then how can you argue that Winston is an upgrade over him? Winston and Wentz are very similar players–both gunslingers with fantastic arms who are prone to turning the ball over.

The only real answer here is Jimmy Garoppolo. I know the guy is a winner, and I honestly think the 49ers should stick with him for another season and let Trey Lance keep learning and developing. But do the Colts really believe they’ll be better with Garoppolo than the 49ers were? I don’t.

I think the 49ers are a better overall team than the Colts are. It’s close, but the 49ers in my view have better talent overall. And I like Kyle Shanahan more than Frank Reich.

Garoppolo is also injury-prone, like Wentz.

I really don’t see how Garoppolo is that big of an upgrade over Wentz. Maybe slightly, but getting a QB that’s marginally better than Wentz is not going to turn Indy into a Super Bowl contender.

Let’s dig into their stats from last year:

By most measures, Garoppolo was the better QB last year, but in two of the most important stats–TDs and INTs–Wentz was better. Still, I think Garoppolo was better, because if we dig into the advanced stats, they, too, favor Garoppolo:

Jimmy G’s receivers dropped a higher percentage of his passes and he still had better figures. Garoppolo’s bad throw percentage was way lower than Wentz’s, and his on target throw percentage was considerably higher. Garoppolo is a significantly more accurate QB than Wentz.

And so in terms of statistics, we have to give the edge to Garoppolo here.

I think the Colts probably would have won that Week 18 game against the Jags with Jimmy G at QB instead of Wentz, but then again, I was actually at that game in Jacksonville, and while yes, Wentz had a rough game, I didn’t think it was all on him. He was getting no protection, and the Colts couldn’t run the ball. That game was not all Wentz’s fault.

Wentz can be really bad sometimes. Jimmy G’s floor is certainly not as low as Wentz’s. But I think Wentz’s ceiling is higher than Garoppolo’s. Statistically, he’s better in some ways and worse in others than Jimmy G, and as we know, Jimmy G is a proven winner and by all accounts very popular with his teammates, so I think when you take everything into account, I’d have to give the nod to Garoppolo. But I don’t think replacing Wentz with Garoppolo is some massive game-changer for the Colts that instantly transforms them into Super Bowl contenders. Again, I think

I really don’t know what the plan is in Indy. I think what we’re seeing is a meddling and impulsive owner be meddling and impulsive.

Now, that said, I don’t think the team is really going to suffer all that much because, again, at the end of the day I think Wentz and Garoppolo are roughly equal in terms of how much better they’d make Indy. I think Garoppolo is more of the slow and steady, Mr. Consistent, never-too-high-never-too-low presence, while Wentz is a rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs.

I don’t necessarily think the Colts are making a big mistake here, but I just think they should have given Wentz one more season in Frank Reich’s system. And I think the 49ers should give Garoppolo another season with that roster after getting so close to the Super Bowl this past year.

I mean, let’s think for a second about what San Fran is doing here: they’re moving off of a QB that has, over the past three seasons, taken them to one Super Bowl and one NFC Championship Game. They’re moving off him in favor of a second-year guy who played the fewest college snaps of any QB to come into the NFL in at least the past 18 years. Trey Lance is talented, but he’s incredibly raw and unproven.

Do they really think they have a better chance of winning a Super Bowl with Trey Lance than Jimmy G? It’s certainly possible, although I’m skeptical of it. Personally, if I’m the 49ers, I wouldn’t change horses mid-stream. I’d run it back with this squad that had a 10-point lead in the 4th quarter of the NFC Championship Game–QB and all. It doesn’t make a ton of sense for them to get that close to the Super Bowl and then change quarterbacks for an unproven young guy.

Unless they really believe Trey Lance is the next Patrick Mahomes. It’s possible, but I don’t think so.


Point 2: Baker Mayfield is also getting a bad rap.

So the Browns are trying to move off of Baker, and very publicly. They seem to have given up on him. He wrote a heartfelt letter to the city of Cleveland last night, and it was very well put together. You could tell it came from the heart.

Now, I will just say that I think the Browns would be better with Watson over Mayfield in a vaccum. I don’t think anyone denies that Watson is a better QB.

However, I think Baker is getting unfairly criticized. He is not as bad as he looked last season. He was playing with a torn shoulder most of the season.

He tore his non-throwing shoulder in week 6 against Arizona and was never the same guy after the injury. Maybe he shouldn’t have tried to play through it; maybe he should have just shut it down for the year.

Let’s set the record straight here: the Browns were in tremendous shape last season before Baker got hurt in week 6. They went into the Cardinals game 3-2, and their two losses easily could’ve been wins. The week 1 loss to Kansas City, Cleveland was in control most of the game but unraveled in the 4th quarter after their ex-punter (“the Scottish Hammer”) fumbled a snap on a punt and wound up turning the ball over at the Kansas City 15-yard line with 8:36 to play and the Browns clinging to a 29-27 lead. The Chiefs quickly scored a TD to go up 33-29, and that was the final score of the game. It wasn’t all on the punter, but that was definitely a huge momentum shift in the game, which was on the road in front of that insane Arrowhead crowd.

In week 5, the Browns lost a shootout to the Chargers 47-42. The Browns were at one point up 27-13 in that game, and it just turned into a complete barnburner in the second half. Baker had a chance to win it at the end but ran out of time. It happens. Sometimes those close games don’t go your way.

The point here is, Cleveland was 3-2 going into the Cardinals game and very well could have been 5-0 or at least 4-1 if a few breaks go their way against Kansas City and/or the Chargers.

In the Cardinals game, about midway through the 3rd quarter, Baker has the Browns driving. They’re at the Arizona 45 down 23-14 facing a second and 13. Baker scrambles out of the pocket but gets tripped up by JJ Watt. Baker falls awkwardly on his shoulder and that was the moment he tore his shoulder. The announcers mentioned he was already dealing with shoulder soreness, and you could tell from the way he landed on it that it was bad. Just watch the video, it’s excruciating. He fumbled the ball on the play.

So the Cardinals take over, go down and score to increase their lead to 30-13. Baker actually remained in the game, but he was not the same player. Cleveland wound up losing 37-14.

Essentially this shoulder injury derailed Baker’s entire season. I don’t think that’s a stretch to say.

He played through it, missing a couple games here and there, but he just wasn’t the same guy the rest of the year. The Browns wound up finishing 8-9.

The upshot of it all is that Baker tried to play through an injury and may have wound up playing himself out of Cleveland. I think he’s being harshly and unfairly judged. People are acting like the guy is trash when he was playing through an injury for more than half the season.

Again, if the Browns end up getting Watson, I think that’s a net positive for them. But I also don’t think they need to make this move. I think they need to give Baker another season. The worst part is that it seems like they’re burning their bridge with him.

At the end of the day, Baker is the best quarterback they’ve had since Bernie Kosar. And they’re ready to kick him to the curb. I don’t like it.


Point #3: Russell Wilson is Overrated

Now you know I’ve never been as high on Russell Wilson as most other people are. Before last season, I ranked him behind Matthew Stafford in my NFC QB rankings. For the NFC, I had Rodgers, Brady, Stafford and then Wilson. Behind Wilson, I had Matt Ryan (clearly too high), Dak, Kyler, Kirk Cousins, Brees, Jared Goff, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Jimmy Garoppolo, Trubisky, Jalen Hurts, and finally Daniel Jones. You will probably have issues with that list in hindsight, but so I do I.

But I still stand by my assertion that Russell Wilson was not a top-3 QB in the NFC last year, or really at any time in his career.

And now that he’s in the AFC, I don’t even think I’d rank him inside the top 5.

Ahead of him in the AFC I would put, in no particular order: Mahomes, Burrow, Herbert, Allen and DeShaun Watson when he actually plays. Watson would be the only controversial name on that list, as I’m sure a lot of people would disagree that he’s better than Russell Wilson, but I firmly believe Watson is the better quarterback.

A quick look at the stats bears that out:

Watson has a better career completion percentage, a better career passer rating, better career yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt, net yards per attempt, and adjusted net yards per attempt. In terms of rushing, they both average 5.5 yards per carry for their careers. In terms of career TD:INT ratio, Watson is a 2.88, Wilson is a 3.35, so Russ has him there.

I don’t think Wilson is bad by any stretch. I just don’t think he’s this elite QB that everyone in the sports media says he is. He’s maybe top-10 in the league, and even that’s debatable.

He’s at least behind Rodgers, Brady, Mahomes, Burrow, Herbert, Allen, Stafford and Watson. That would put Russ at #9 in the league at best, in my opinion.

The debate is between him and Dak, Lamar and Kyler. I would probably put him ahead of those three guys, but I could see arguments made for Lamar being ahead of him. Maybe Dak, but I would take Russ over Dak without much hesitation, personally.

The main reason, and I’ve said this before, is that when I think of Russell Wilson, the first thing that comes to mind is how often he gets sacked after like 5-7 seconds. I always hear about how bad his offensive line is and how he has no protection, but when I watch him play, I see him taking a bunch of sacks that are his fault, not his line’s.

I don’t know. I just had to get this off my chest. I don’t think Russell Wilson is as good as everyone says he is. I think the Broncos will obviously be much better this season, and I think they’re legit Super Bowl contenders with him. After all, I do think he’s a top-10 QB at the end of the day. But I also think the Broncos have such a stacked roster beyond him that any decent QB they plugged in would have made them a legit Super Bowl team.


Point #4: Brady’s Questionable Retirement

I’ll try to keep this short and sweet because this post is running a bit long. But the question I have about Tom Brady’s 40-day retirement is this: why?

Why did he do that? He clearly didn’t want to retire. Did Adam Schefter basically force him into it? You know my thoughts on Schefter.

It’s just a very bizarre situation. Brady retires in the most half-assed, wishy-washy way possible, and then barely a month later he’s like, “I’M NOT DONE YET. LET’S RUN IT BACK TAMPA!”

Did his wife pressure him to retire, and then relent when she saw he was unhappy being retired? I don’t know. I really don’t know.

I thought it was very disappointing of him to retire when he did last month primarily because of how good he still is. I don’t think he should leave anything on the table. I think he should play until he can’t play anymore. The dude led the league in passing yards and passing TDs last season! There’s absolutely no reason for him to retire.

It’s not about the accomplishments. He’s already accomplished everything he set out to accomplish and more. He’s by far the most decorated and accomplished QB in history. He is the consensus GOAT.

But it’s not about that. It’s about playing the game he loves until he can no longer play it. It’s about doing what he was put on this earth to do.

Look, there are some guys who retire at the top of their game, and I totally understand it. Patrick Willis didn’t want to take the beating anymore. Calvin Johnson was sick and tired of the Lions and their incompetence. Barry Sanders also got burned out by the Lions. I get all that.

If you are trying to preserve your body, or if you simply cannot take the incompetence of your organization, I understand calling it quits early even if you have some gas left in the tank.

But Tom Brady does not play a high-contact position. He’s not getting pummeled out there like those other guys were. Sure, he takes hits, but not nearly as many as guys like Megatron, Barry and Willis.

Tom Brady still has so much left in the tank, and in my view, it would have been a travesty for him to retire with gas still left in the tank. Like that character in Ocean’s 12 that says, “I want the last check I write to bounce,” Tom Brady is nowhere close to bouncing checks.

Once you reach the age where you can no longer play football, that’s it. You’re done for life. Your playing days are over for good. Guys hit the wall, and that’s the end of it. Brady has not yet hit the wall. And I’m sure there are tons of former players out there who had to stop playing because their bodies simply could no longer handle it. So many ex-players out there would give anything to come back for just one more game. Brady would have been doing a disservice to all of those guys to stop playing even when he had the ability to continue playing. It would have been a slap in the face.

You think Ryan Shazier wouldn’t give anything to be able to play pro football again?

Brady has never struck me as a guy who took the game of football for granted. He was drafted 199 overall. There were doubts that he could even play in the NFL to begin with way back when. There’s no way Tom Brady would walk out on the game with gas still left in the tank.

And that’s why I was always of the belief that his retirement was only temporary.

But the lingering question I have is why did he do it in the manner he did it in?

It was just strange in every way.

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